100 Very Best Restaurant 2016: Ruan Thai

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Fried whole flounder at Ruan Thai. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

At this strip-mall Thai joint, you can pretty much close your eyes and point at the vast menu and there’s a good chance you’ll wind up with something wondrous. Frying is at a level far above other Thai restaurants (and other restaurants in general). The famed yum watercress salad—with its crispy bits of greens, shrimp, squid, cashew, and shallot tossed with spicy lime juice—tastes like a fritto misto gone Southeast Asian. Yum pla korb ramps up shards of crunchy fish with scallions, lemongrass, and lime. And boneless duck with a shower of chilies and basil is beautifully caramelized. You can also rely on this 18-year-old family-run kitchen for takeout standards: It makes a mean pad Thai, Panang curry, and chicken satay.

Don’t miss: Chive dumplings; larb (minced-chicken salad); grilled pork with spicy sauce; fried flounder with chili and basil; mango with sticky rice.

See what other restaurants made our 100 Very Best Restaurants list. This article appears in our February 2016 issue of Washingtonian.

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Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.

Anna Spiegel
Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.